Not content with bagging the production car record using a stripped-out Continental GT in 2019, Bentley is upping the ante for its Pikes Peak International Hill Climb shenanigans this year. The plan is to send up an extensively modified Continental GT3 racer, with the aim of it becoming the fastest-ever Time Attack 1-class vehicle. Once again, Rhys Millen will be behind the wheel.
One tier down from the mad as a box of frogs ‘Unlimited’ category, the record for which is still held by the VW IDR, Time Attack 1 is populated by production-based closed-cockpit machines. It’s still possible for the finished product to stray quite far from its road car origins, however, as evidenced by the GT3 Pikes Peak’s enormous rear wing.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the largest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley. The giant aero piece works together with an equally outlandish two-plane front splitter featuring enormous dive planes and a vast rear diffuser. There are also cooling air scoops replacing the rear windows.
Since this is based on Bentley’s GT3 car, there’s a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 up front, rather than the company’s unusual 6.0-litre W12. It’s received some unspecified modifications, helping the unit produce “significant horsepower” even while sucking in the significantly less dense air at Pikes Peaks’ 14,100 ft-high finish line. It should sound plenty angry too, thanks to the short side-exit exhaust outlets.
Although the GT3 Pikes Peak doesn’t exactly scream ‘environmentalism’ when you look at it, there is an eco-friendly angle to the project. It’ll run on a “biofuel-based gasoline” which will reduce emissions by up to 85 per cent.
The point of all this, Bentley says, is that 80 per cent of the cars it’s ever sold are still used today. The 2030 electrification plans are all well and good, but if the brand is serious about cleaning up, it needs to sort out the cars already out there. “This first step marks the start of a longer programme that will investigate both biofuels and e-fuels for their potential to power the Bentleys of past and present in a sustainable way,” the press release states.
The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak’s test and development phase has just begun in the UK. Soon, it’ll be sent to the USA to be testing at higher altitudes. We’ll get to see it in action at the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, which takes place on 27 June.